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Friday, October 15, 2010

Trash Course by Penny Drake

Trash Course by Penny Drake
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (219 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Water Lily

Terry Faye loves travelling the world while working as a private investigator. But this latest case is a doozy—and it's right here in Ann Arbor.

Two elderly recluses, Howard and Lawrence Peale, have stopped communicating with the outside world, and Terry and her boss have been put on the case. The catch: the Peales are hoarders. A clean sweep isn't going to be easy, even with cute photographer Zack Archer lending a hand.

The more digging Terry does in the Peale mansion, the more dirt she uncovers. And after she discovers two dead bodies, it's going to take a lot more than just elbow grease and a nice guy sidekick to find out what's happened...

Having watched several episodes of the TLC program Hoarding: Buried Alive, I was interested in a book set in a hoarder’s home. I was pleasantly surprised that Ms. Drake made the house a character and dealt with the hoarders in a sensitive manner while putting forth an interesting mystery. The reader needs to pay attention. The twists and turns in the plot mirror the maze through the hoarder’s house. Trash Course is chuck full of dead bodies, quirky characters, international smugglers, romance, past scars, and the treacherous mounds of Howard and Lawrence Peale’s collections. The setting is so vivid I was glad this wasn’t a scratch and sniff book.

While the setting is wonderfully done, the characterizations aren’t quite as distinct. I thought Terry Faye was at least a decade older than she was, maybe more. She’s really in her mid-twenties. Her personal details are interesting, but it’s her motivation I wasn’t completely sold on. Given her background, her attraction to Zack doesn’t make a lot of sense. Experience has told her men are liars and nothing Zack does make me believe she’ll fall for him. Terry’s employer, Ms. Hawk, is a shadow character—interesting, but indistinct—and the bad guys are interchangeable cardboard cutouts. But Zack Archer is better defined. His history gives him good motivation for most of what he does though I’m not certain why he falls for prickly Terry.

But the fact is:  this is a plot driven book and it's a good one. The mystery kept me turning pages. Ms. Drake wove the story threads into an interesting tapestry worthy of Lawrence Peale’s rug collection. I’m glad I got to review Trash Course.